Wei Wei Gao blew a 2-up lead in the early going and flubbed a birdie putt on the 18th, enabling American Eugene Hong to escape with a 1-up win in their quarterfinal duel in the US Junior Amateur Match Play at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee Friday.
Gao, 16, birdied No. 4 and watched Hong bogey the par-5 sixth to go 2-up but fumbled with bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9 for an all-square match. He birdied No. 11 to go up again then split the next two holes to move five holes from reaching the semifinals.
But Hong birdied the 15th and Gao bogeyed the next as the Filipino fell behind by one and missed birdie putts in the last two holes to drop out of the title race.
It was a sorry setback for the Cebuano bet who showed a lot of promise with a seventh place finish in the 36-hole stroke play elims he spiked with an ace. He beat Brendan Hansen, also of the US, in the opener of the knockout phase, 3&2, then posted two wins in one day to advance to the quarterfinals.
His Last 8 showing, however, assured him of a spot for next year’s staging of the one of the world’s top amateur events.
Hong, however, lost to Aussie Min Woo Lee, 1-up.